Just as Tom Cruise is about to rebuild his popularity with his made-up turn in Tropic Thunder comes the news that the kibosh has come down on his starring role in the thriller Edwin A. Salt. Angelina Jolie will take the role instead, which screenwriter Kurt Wimmer will re-write and re-title for a female lead.
This isn’t bad news at all. If Cruise is really going to rebuild himself into someone audiences want to watch again, he needs to take roles that branch off from his standard fare. Jolie, meanwhile, can anchor this sort of neuveau spy thriller in her sleep, but with more vibrant energy than Cruise would manage.
(Wimmer’s script is about a CIA agent accused of being a Russian sleeper agent who must stay free long enough to prove his/her innocence. Shades of many mid-’70s thrillers, but with Wimmer writing and Philip Noyce directing I wouldn’t pin any hopes on that sort of tone.)
For Cruise, this isn’t even as dramatic as it sounds. The flick was being developed for him at one point, but supposedly he was never actually signed. So Jolie may not be bumping Cruise off so much as stepping into shoes he didn’t want. Don’t call it dumpster diving; call it Hollywood.